Minnesotans Emulating Transit-names of Other Organizations

London Green Bus (Country Bus)
London Green Bus (Country Bus)

The Metoopolitan Council recently unveiled its name “Metro” for rail and BRT services. I don’t like the framing. How does this branding compare with other agencies? I looked up the top 10 US agencies (by bus ridership, which is more or less the top 10 ranking overall).

  • New York MTA
    • Bus and Subway (uses letters and numbers),
    • Commuter Rail lines (names): LIRR, Metro-North
  • Los Angeles LACMTA
    • Metro Local, Metro Express, Metro Rapid, Metro Rail (uses colors for BRT and Rail)
  • Chicago CTA
    • CTA, ‘L’
  • San Francisco
    • Muni (Bus, Rail=Metro, uses letters for rail lines)
    • BART (uses destinations for route names)
  • Philadelphia
    • SEPTA (color for rail lines)
    • PATCO
  • Washington WMATA
    • Metrobus,
    • Metrorail, (colors for rail lines)
  • Boston MBTA
    • The “T” (colors for rail lines)
  • Seattle
    • King County Metro (Bus, RapidRide BRT)
    • Sound Transit (names for rail lines)
  • Baltimore MTA Maryland
    • Bus,
    • Heavy Rail=Metro,
    • Light Rail (colors for Heavy and Light Rail),
    • Marc Commuter Rail (names)
  • Miami Miami-Dade Transit
    • Metrorail (colors for line names)
    • Metromover,
    • Metrobus

Minneapolis is actually 11th on the list, so we should look upwards, at least for information.

So what does “Metro” mean? It is part of a Commuter Rail name (NYC), it indicates all transit (LA, DC, Miami), Heavy Rail only (San Francisco-Muni, Baltimore), the Bus agency (Seattle). “Metropolitan” is also in the agency name in many places (NY, LA, DC, Seattle), as in the Twin Cities.

In general, the names are distinguished (if at all) by the technology.

I personally like the DC, LA, Miami convention of Metro-technology as a way of distinguishing between the various transit modes. The word “Metro” does not imply privilege as is currently proposed for the Twin Cities, just its metropolitan nature. We could easily have meTrorail (the LRT), meTrobus (local bus service), meTrorapid (BRT) and meTroexpress (commuter bus) or something like that. I have used inCase capitalization to emphasize the “T” logo. Surely that is in the works. (As to whether it should be Metro Rail, Metro-Rail, Metro-rail, or Metrorail I will leave to the grammarians).
Within systems, the naming of routes is also non-standard. Commuter rail tends to be named, heavy and light rail can be lettered (NY, SF-Muni), colored (LA, DC, Boston, Baltimore, Miami), named (Seattle), or place-based (SF-BART). In contrast with rail, for bus there is a standard, bus routes are almost uniformly numbered in large cities. Of course the numbering convention is localized. The use of colors for rail lines as proposed in the Twin Cities is much less awful than the Metro for rail only proposal.

One thought on “Minnesotans Emulating Transit-names of Other Organizations”

  1. They’re trying to distinguish by ROW rather than technolgoy, which makes a lot of sense, though it’s curious that they’re using a name associated with dedicated ROW rather than exclusive, which the new network is.
    But it’s not really curious, that METRO Transit is running Metro, and people will still call it MTC.

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